Now more than ever, animal foster homes are playing a vital role in taking care of animals in need. With a 90% increase in pet fostering during this COVID-19 pandemic, now is a perfect time to build momentum around your pet foster and pet adoption programs.

We’ll provide an all-encompassing rundown of how to support and encourage your pet fosters to help your marketing efforts. Empowering your fosters to assist in marketing efforts will help ensure now and in the future they are ready to help move their foster pets into loving and permanent homes.

So, how are you going to get your pet fosters on the marketing train? (ChooChoo!) Because let’s be honest…the majority of your fosters are not marketing experts and may not be as social media savvy as you’d hope.

As we provide tips, we’ll go through the story of getting Mr. and Mrs. Jones started marketing their adorable foster dog, Charlie. Let’s dive-in!

1. Set expectations early.

It’s important to let your fosters know early on you want them to help market the animals they’re taking home. You don’t want to blindside Mr. and Mrs. Jones when you ask for a page write up and several adorable pictures of their foster dog.

Instead, set them up for success by explaining early in the foster process how you want them to help your marketing efforts. During their foster training or when you first introduce them to their foster pet would be a great opportunity.

Set expectations for what you want to receive from them or have them do. This could be posting on their social media or providing you stories about their foster animals. Explain how helpful their marketing efforts would be in finding their foster pets a home.

If possible, have a marketing guideline that goes home in their foster packet. This one from Maddie’s Fund is a great example.

2. Have training available.

So, Mr. and Mrs. Jones climbed on your marketing train with their foster pup. Great! Now it’s important to have training available so you can get a good return on their efforts. (Remember they aren’t marketing experts.)

There are many different ways to approach training, and you can vary how much training is needed based on your foster’s skill set.

One option would be to do online training about marketing foster animals. Set aside scheduled times for your fosters to meet over video chat to discuss your goals for marketing and how they can help. Address how to use social media and what content you would like from them. Allow time for questions as well.

Have a resource available for them to go back to. We have created a social media guide for marketing foster animals. You can download it here.

3. Use templates.

Mrs. Jones just posted the most adorable photo of her grandchild playing with her foster dog on her social media, and you’d love to use this on your website as well. A great way to get this type of content is to provide a template for your pet fosters to use.

A template prompting them to answer specific questions allows you to control the content you get back. If you want a story, ask them for their favorite memory with their foster pet. If you need to know what training they have done, include this on the template as well. Your pet fosters don’t know what to tell you about the pet if you don’t ask. If you give them the blanks to fill in, you’ll almost always get what you’re looking for.

Download a blank copy of the template shown and start sending it to your fosters today.

4. Let them take over your rescue’s social media.

So Mr. Jones has taken to this social media thing. He’s doing Facebook stories and has a couple of friends interested in Charlie. If you have pet fosters willing to do it, a great chance to showcase the foster animal is to have them take over your shelter or rescue’s social media page.

Have your pet fosters share their foster pet’s daily routine and any cute pictures they’ve snapped while it was in their home. This can be very helpful if you have a pet that is shy in the shelter but has really opened up in their foster home.

Having your fosters show their foster pet’s true personalities through your rescue’s Instagram story could be how they catch one of your follower’s eyes.

5. Share, share, and share some more!

Encourage your pet fosters to share their foster animals with their friends and family on social media. You never know who may see their post and decide the dog they posted about is the perfect addition to their family.

If you are having a hard time getting your fosters to post on their social media, it may be helpful to designate a specific person to help coordinate their content. Have a volunteer schedule fun animal foster content ideas, like “Tongues Out Tuesday Photo Challenge”. Have your pet fosters post these on their social media, or have your volunteer collect these photos from them to share on your own social media channels.

The more channels you can get your foster animals shared in, the larger chance of them being seen and adopted.

6. Build a foster community.

With a lot of us having to stay sheltered-in-place, now is a great time to build up your foster community using social media. Create a private Facebook page for them to share care tips or funny stories about the animals.

Brainstorm content ideas with your fosters on here. Have them share how they are marketing their foster pets to their social media network. Post “foster fails.” Provide a space to share successes and tips. Use your foster community to find foster mentors and additional volunteers for your rescue.

7. Encourage them to be real.

Encourage your pet fosters to snap pictures and take videos of their pet throughout the day. The foster home is a perfect place to do this, as the animals are typically in a more comfortable environment.

Photos in shelters typically have a blue background or show the kennel and typically come from one quick click of the camera to get the photo up. In your pet foster’s home you can have them get photos by a window, napping, chilling, playing, sitting in the grass, cuddling with your kids or husband.

If Mr. and Mrs. Jones keep getting photos of Charlie rolling over, not sitting with a stoic look on his face, let them know that’s okay. Getting a perfectly timed shot from your pet fosters is not the goal. You want them to really showcase the foster pet’s personality.

Potential adopters want to know what their future pet is going to be like in real life. Have your fosters take videos of snuggles and playtime. Making an emotional connection through a screen can be hard, so the more real the better. Real cute is good too!

8. Set a schedule.

Amazing job! You now have Mr. and Mrs. Jones snapping pictures, posting on social media, and writing animal bios about Charlie that make you cry and laugh. Now you need to get all of this content from them.

Make a schedule for your pet fosters and provide a consistent way to receive marketing pieces. This will keep your fosters and yourself on track. For example, request that you get your pet templates back once a week and send them to your email. You may want to have them help write their foster pets’ bios too. Once received, you’re ready to post on your rescue’s site and get these animals adopted.

Here at Pawlytics, we will soon have an option to set up reminder notifications. You will have the option to send reminders to your pet fosters to send in their marketing content. This option is also great for sending reminders about vet visits or medication schedules. Contact us if you want more information about this.

Last, here are some great tools to simplify your marketing and adoption efforts:

Canva (a personal favorite): This tool has great templates and graphics to showcase your animals in their foster homes.

Trello: Use this tool as an integral resource for fosters to see available fosters. Create Trello boards for animals that “need a foster” and one for animals “in-foster” to help organize your animals. You can also set up tags, such as “good with cats” or “need active family”.

Airtable: Use this tool to create surveys for your fosters, create workflows, and collect photos all in one convenient spot. Airtable allows you to create bases and workspaces to use in any way applicable to your pet foster marketing needs.

Pawlytics (oh yeah, that’s us!): Use our animal rescue software platform to simplify collecting foster applications, know exactly where your foster pets are, track incoming and outgoing pets, set vet appointment and medical reminders for your fosters to receive via text or email, and more.

At the end of the day, regardless of what’s happening in the world around us, we all want animals in rescues and shelters to find happy and permanent homes. At Pawlytics we want to eliminate the friction between rescues and their fosters through our animal rescue software application. We hope these marketing tips encourage your fosters to work with you to achieve your adoption goals and that they’ll be as empowered as you are to keep saving animals.

Have more ideas for getting foster pets adopted, have questions, or maybe want to see a demo? Contact us, we’d love to chat!

Also one last big shout out to Maddie’s Fund for putting on an amazing Webinar, “Empowering Fosters to Help Market Pets from Foster Care,” which is where a lot of these tips and information came from. You can check out their full webinar here!

We’ll all keep working together to keep saving animals!